I woke up a few days ago with the news that two members of the Church involved in the Ordain Women's organization group have been called to a disciplinary council. I wasn't surprised but I must admit that the first thought that came to my mind when I heard the news was: "Really? Did the Church just do that?".
I worked in media for many years and when you have newspapers like the New York Times picking this sort of stories, whatever monies the Church spent in their campaign about making Mormonism more palatable and digestible to the outside world, all of the sudden just went down the drain.
Imagine you have pictures of one of these members in question crying and saying that losing her membership in the Church would be devastating. Of course, I can understand that and I do not envy her position, most of our members center their entire lives around the Church and the concept of eternal families, of course anyone would feel devastated at the thought of losing such a key part of their lives.
It seems that Church headquarters have been quite busy and making a few phone calls. The only reason I can think of for this drastic decision (Erroneous decision in my view) is the fact that the group is growing too fast for the Church. Having said that, it is quite naÃ¯ve to think that excommunicating these members will somehow disintegrate the group. It won't happen, as a matter of fact, it will make this group even stronger because adversity in any social group causes the group to unite even more in times of crisis.
Is the Church aware of that? Other people will take charge, are they going to call a disciplinary hearing for every single person who participates in such group? I find *this* position to be cold, drastic and if you allow me, a position that puts the Church as a religious bully. "Do as I said, think like we do or else your membership is in jeopardy". Isn't there room for doubts or disagreement?
The Church stated that they do not meet with extreme groups; I find that response very cold and heartbreaking. Cold because we have to take into consideration that these brothers and sisters aren't strangers to the Church, they are women, sisters, mothers, fathers, returned missionaries who have dedicated and sacrificed resources, family time and countless hours to give service to the same Church who at the present time, doesn't wish to have a dialogue with them and listen to their point of view but instead they want to pretty much get rid of them.
Labeling this group as "extreme" as the Church has done, they are putting these members in a position where they will be victims of scorn and scrutiny just because they dare to think differently in some issues and ask for an open dialogue.
I am disappointed. Our Church apostles and seventies meet with country leaders and people all over the world and you are telling me that there is no willingness, no effort and no time to meet some concerned and dedicated members of their fold who want to be listened to and feel validated? The SAME people who are making OUR Church grow? The SAME people who after working long hours have Church meetings to fulfill their ecclesiastic responsibilities? The SAME people who go without many times to pay tithing? The SAMEpeople? Really? It gives me shivers down my spine.
One can argue whether the Church has a reason or not to call a disciplinary council but one thing is evident to me, the Church has not been willing to meet and listen to their concerns face to face and this sort of action is nothing more than a "message" trying to be send to you, me or anyone who dares to think differently, you either conform or we get rid of you quickly and when you are ready to think like *us* and act like *us* and be like *us* you are welcome back.
I blogged in the past that there is room for everyone in the Church, now I am not sure. Parents are models for their children's behavior; they act in the same manner they observe their parents acting. Are we really surprised why our members are known to be so judgmental towards anyone who is different in the Church?"¦The guy who dares to have a beard, the feminist, the guy with the tattoos, the one that chooses a colored shirt to pass the sacrament, the open gay member? No, I am not surprised. We are just imitating what our "parent" has been doing and we are just merely showing unconsciously and many times, consciously the model that is being given to us. It saddens me deeply.
Some members are overcome by doubts and they feel lonely, ostracized and unwanted. When they see someone willing to say they have doubts but they remain faithful members of the Church helps them to realize that they are not alone in their struggle.
Every human being wants to fit in a social group, wants to be accepted, loved, appreciated and valued no matter who they are. When you have members who have given their resources, their whole heart and soul to the cause and the same Church slaps them back with a disciplinary council letter, you are damaging them for life, you are scaring them forever.
Today I feel a little less wanted in the Church I love and makes me realize that when we talk about members leaving the Church, a very few times we talk about what degree of responsibility *we* have for them leaving.
A profound, honest mea culpa needs to take place in each one of us, individually and collectively if we are interested in helping those struggling in the faith or whose views are different than ours. Is there room for them in our midst? I really hope there is. We need them, I need them.
An open and sincere dialogue needs to take place if we truly care about their welfare. If we do not care, then well, by all means let's continue sending disciplinary action letters and imagine that by doing that, this organization will soon vanish. Let's continue wearing our rose-tinted glasses and pretend that all is well in Zion...